Today marks the third anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, killing at least 16,000 people – and leaving nearly 300,000 others still unable to return to their homes and towns. Across Japan, candlight vigils and somber prayer services were held in remembrance of the men, women and children they lost on March 11, 2011, as well as the destruction of entire cities, towns and villages. Japan has struggled to rebuild tsunami-hit communities and clean up radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered meltdowns and widespread radiation leaks.
A new short documentary visits the Japanese disaster through the eyes of a Buddhist monk and teacher. REACTOR – Lessons from Fukushima follows Michael Stone as he travels through Japan a year after the earthquake and tsunami. Director and documentary filmmaker Ian MacKenzie joined Margaret to talk about the inspiration for the film, as well as the situation in Japan now.
SESHEN, a dancer/vocalist, created an experimental ritual in collaboration with the film release. This is the story behind the collaboration. May this work be a model for others to follow and integrate emerging forms of activism.
A FILMMAKER AND A WRITER head to Japan post-tsunami and partial Fukushima meltdown to see how the Japanese are responding to the crisis. Two perspectives, aligned yet different – that’s the beauty of two artists tackling the same questions through their own medium.
Michael Stone shares his thoughts in “We Promise to Fix It Back” a short essay now available as a PDF download. Please tweet, Facebook, email, and share widely.
“We promise to fix it back. How can anyone repair what has happened there? Where do we even start? Is it with these small acts of kindness?
What does the dharma have to offer us in confronting our addiction to massive amounts of energy and a growth-based economy that has outgrown the limits of the biosphere?
Will this catastrophe in Japan change us and lead to a more innovative, caring and interconnected way of living? Will the outbreaks of altruism and civic enthusiasm propel us to take similar steps? Will we demand ingenious forms of accountability? I decide definitively not to cancel my ticket to Japan. I need to see what I can learn about a Bodhisattva path through the lessons that Fukushima offers.”
The short film REACTOR releases in August 2013. Here’s how you can get involved:
Masao Yoshida, the plant manager who led the fight to bring Japan’s Fukushima atomic station under control during the 2011 nuclear disaster, has died. He was 58.
He died on July 9 at a hospital in Tokyo, according to a statement from Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501)., the operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The cause was esophageal cancer, the statement said. The illness was unrelated to the radiation exposure after the nuclear accident, according to Tepco, as Tokyo Electric is known.
Yoshida, an engineer by training, directed workers to stop the reactors from overheating after Japan’s strongest earthquake on record and an ensuing tsunami hit the plant on March 11, 2011, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. He stayed at the plant, helming the disaster response for almost nine months.
“I can not imagine how hard it was for him,” Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice-chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said in an interview. “He had to make a decision that most of the on-site workers should leave because the situation was getting worse and he also had to have some of his staff remain to work with him. That was probably the hardest decision he ever had to make.”
Michael Stone is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, Buddhist teacher, author and activist, committed to the integration of traditional teachings with contemporary psychological and philosophical understanding. His research and teaching explore the intersection of committed spiritual practice and social action.
The following talk was recorded at W2 Media Cafe on Dec 2, 2012 in Vancouver BC. The event was a fundraiser for the upcoming short film REACTOR, directed by Ian MacKenzie and co-produced by Michael Stone. The short film covers their pilgrimage to Japan in the wake of the tsunami and Fukushima meltdown, as they explore the ways Japanese people are responding to the disaster. The following talk begins with Michael discussing his experiences in Japan at a Zen monastery in Kyoto before Ian arrived to begin shooting the film.
“When you see an image of Guanyin, when you see an image of Kannon, when you see a sculpture of the Bodhisattva, she has a thousand arms. And in every arm, in every hand, there is a different tool.
One arm might have a rake, one arm might have a rope, one arm might have an image of an awakened Buddha, one arm might have an iPhone, one arm might have another app. And these thousands of arms have different kinds of tools. And it’s said that if you want to really put love in action or compassion into action, you need many kinds of tools. So when you go to temples where the centerpiece of the temple is a Bodhisattva, or is Guanyin, or a Kannon, you see an image of a woman or a man with a thousand arms.
I think about this in my life: what does it mean to have tools of compassion? It seems, in my life, having tools of compassion has everything to do with my own woundedness. To be able to take places where I’ve been wounded and recognize that instead of seeing those wounds or those scars as kind of places that hold me back or stop me, maybe my woundedness is also a tool for connecting with others.
Hanamaru Fujii is the illustrator behind The Power Story, a simple book published on Facebook after the tsunami. He was happy to be interviewed for REACTOR, to share his thoughts on how to be of service in a time of crisis – and to share with the world what is going on in Fukushima.
In his own words:
Hello, I’m Hanamaru Fujii. I’m an illustrator from Tokyo. One evening, I felt compelled and inspired to take my recent thoughts and put it onto paper. Half an hour later, I had something- a story with illustrations. I put it on Facebook, thinking it would at least see the light of day.
I’ve been humbled and surprised to have so much unexpected encouragement and thanks. It made me want to share this with more people.
Now that the story’s been translated into English, I hope this can give you a glimpse into the thoughts of one Japanese person.
It’s sloppy, and it’s just something that “happened on paper”, but I hope it will give you something to think about, as we try to move forward.
What does it mean to be in the moment? What does it mean to be mindful? Yogi and Buddhist teacher Michael Stone breaks down the oft used term and shows how it relates to being mindful about what’s really going on.
Michael Stone checks in on the way to Hiroshima, to learn of the horrors of the nuclear bomb. The visit was prompted by an interview with Dr. Imanaka, a nuclear research scientist in Osaka who issued further warnings on the danger of this energy.